Walkers, runners take to refurbished track at Jeannette’s McKee Stadium

Thursday, August 13, 2020 | 5:34 PM

A social media post about the completion and opening of the new track at Jeannette’s McKee Stadium Monday was viewed over 11,000 times.

People in the community have been walking and jogging on the oval all week.

“All of the feedback we have received from the community has been positive,” Jeannette Superintendent Matt Jones said.

Administrators expect the new, all-weather surface that encircles the football field to get a lot of usage by the public.

“We think it looks great,” Jeannette athletic director Ryan Hayden said. “It will benefit the community greatly because I know many residents enjoy walking and exercising on the track.”

Jeannette has not had a track and field team since the early 2000s. The district allows its would-be participants in the sport to compete at Hempfield as part of a cooperative sponsorship — an agreement that enables students from one school to play a sport at another neighboring school.

Therefore, there are no plans to add pits for jumps and the pole vault, or areas for throwing events, at McKee, the decades-long home of the Jayhawks. Athletes can train at the stadium, but it is not set up to host a WPIAL meet.

“The co-op has been mutually beneficial for both school districts in track and wrestling,” Jones said.

Hayden said Jeannette had “a handful” of athletes come out for track in the spring, but they never got to compete because the PIAA canceled the spring season due to covid-19.

The district would embrace a track and field team of its own, the athletic director said.

“We have not had enough interest in track and field in my time here,” Hayden said. “But if that changes, then we would love to put the track to good use — if we had enough kids interested to field a team of our own.”

The black, polyurethane track surface cost the district $128,295, Jones said. It was part of a renovation project that also included an artificial turf playing surface that debuted last year.

McKee had a grass surface since it opened in 1937. The six-lane track had not been resurfaced since 1999. A cinder track previously, the surface only received patch-up repairs over the last two decades.

Jones said weather delays slowed the latest turf project which, in turn, set back construction of the track.

The original plan was to have the track completed this past May, but the covid-19 outbreak pushed plans to summer.

“From our very first community meeting to discuss the stadium renovation, we made it clear that we wanted the facility to be an asset to the Jeannette community,” Jones said. “The renovation was specifically designed to provide a location for youth teams and organizations, band events, varsity athletics as well as recreation for all of our citizens.

“It has been such a boost this week to drive past the stadium early in the morning and see members of the community running and walking on the track.”

The track will remain open until dusk until school begins.

“Restrictions will be put in place during school hours for the security of our McKee Elementary students that will be using the track and field for physical education classes and recess,” Jones said. “During the school term, the track will be open for public use outside of school hours.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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